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article posted yesterday in the observer uk

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    David Cameron to pledge NHS cash boost for most deprived areas

    Tories in bid to shed elitist image
 Brown: Labour is party of aspiration
    Buzz up!
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    Toby Helm, political editor
    The Observer, Sunday 3 January 2010
    Article history

    David Cameron has promised to direct a higher share of NHS resources to boost health in run-down areas. Photograph: Steve Parsons/PA
    David Cameron will attempt to shed the Tories' image as the party of the rich and privileged tomorrow by pledging to divert billions of pounds to healthcare in the most deprived areas of the country.
    The promise to direct a higher share of NHS resources to boost health in run-down areas was described last night by a senior party source as proof that Gordon Brown's "class war" attacks on the Conservatives were baseless.
    The move comes as the main parties fire the opening shots in what promises to be the longest, most bitterly fought and possibly closest general election campaign since 1974. The most likely day for voters to go to the polls is 6 May.
    In an article for today's Observer, Brown joins the battle for the support of middle England, going out of his way to stress that "New Labour" is very much alive as the party of "aspiration" and is fizzing with ideas and optimism.
    Tomorrow he and Ed Balls, the schools secretary, will make a series of announcements on education, including plans to expand the number of specialist teachers from primary schools upwards.
    Balls will announce that pupils aged seven onwards will be able to learn languages including Mandarin and Arabic to meet the challenges of a globalised world. Officials cited CBI surveys showing that 52% of employers looking for language skills now want people with French, 43% with German and 38% with Mandarin/Cantonese. They said Labour was keen to prepare the next generation of workers for the new global economy.
    "Our priority is to offer not a gamble, but a guarantee," Brown writes, "[with] public services that are also personal services tailored to people's needs, legally enforceable rights for personalised education, health, social care and policing, not just for some but for all."
    He adds: "With our laser focus on school standards, guaranteed support for school-leavers and new plans to equip all of our people for the challenging times ahead, I know there is nothing our country can't achieve in the decade to come."
    In a speech launching his election themes yesterday, Cameron called on voters to make 2010 "the year of change" and attacked Brown for his class war approach to politics. "We can't go on with an old-fashioned leftwing class war on aspiration from a government that has seen the rich get richer and the poor get poorer," he said.
    The Tories, Cameron insisted, would support the NHS because it was "the embodiment of fairness in our society". "We recognise its special place in our society so we will not cut the NHS; we will improve it for everyone.
    "It's because we are progressives that we will support aspiration so that people from every background, not just the rich, have the chance to get on in life."
    The decision on health funding will be the first in a series of policy statements by the Tories aimed at silencing those who claim they are intent on slashing core public services.
    The commitment to reshape the NHS budget by directing more to the neediest represents a dramatic shift from Conservative policy in the 2005 election, when the party went to the polls offering to subsidise those who chose to have their treatment in private hospitals.
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